Collaboration, perseverance credited for solving 1981 murder case; Holt man charged

buddy phelps murder solved arrest cold case

A Holt man is charged with the murder of Leonard "Buddy" Phelps, who was found dead outside his business, Phelps Brothers Boat Works on Oct. 2, 1981.

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:46 AM.

A collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Assistant State Attorney Robert Elmore helped lead to a Holt man's indictment in connection with an unsolved Okaloosa murder that dates back to October 1981.

Leonard “Buddy” Phelps of Niceville was killed Oct. 2, 1981, outside his business, Phelps Brothers Boat Works on John Sims Parkway. He had been beaten with a shovel and shot.

Jackie Long, 55, of Holt — in custody in Alabama on unrelated charges of attempted murder, robbery and burglary — was indicted Tuesday in Phelps’ killing, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

He now faces charges in Okaloosa County on first-degree premeditated murder and/or first-degree felony murder.

In addition to their other duties, OCSO investigators have continued working on cold case murders, hoping new technologies or new relationships could provide evidence needed to bring justice to victims and families.

Prior to this latest indictment, their efforts led to resolutions in four cold case murders in the last three years; those include the deaths of Catherine Ainsworth in 1975, Donald Tidwell in 1985, Pluma Bell Sanford in 1987 and Ulai Sookruetai in 1988.

In the Phelps case, investigators put fresh eyes on the complex case and continued to dig and prod to no avail.

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